10 Health Benefits of Laughter
You probably heard the term “Laughter is the best medicine”. More and more research in recent years is showing that this assertion is correct. Laughter has been shown to relieve pain, minimize the chances of getting sick and obviously, as a mood booster.
1. Reduce Aggression
We sometimes get the urge to snap and lash out, it’s normal, but when the urge surfaces, you should pause, and try laughing instead. A leading psychologist in couples relationship, Dr. Fran Walfish, says that “Laughter relaxes the body and releases stress. It also is an acceptable healthy expulsion of aggressive impulses. The sound that is vocalized can be paralleled to a scream. There is a release. The trigger for laughter is often a helpful distraction to daily worries and concerns. This is an added benefit. Studies have shown that laughter reduces certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline."
2. Stress Reduction
Another benefit of lowering the levels of stress hormones is by literally reducing stress. When you feel like your stress is getting out of control and starts overwhelming you, find a reason to giggle, chuckle or laugh out loud. This will help you relax both mentally and physically. So if life is pushing you down, watch a comedy, see a couple of funny YouTube clips or read a funny book – Your body will thank you for it.
3. Improve Your Breathing
When you laugh out loud, you exhale longer, removing residual air from your lungs and replacing it with fresh air, richer in oxygen. Even if you start with a fake laugh, it will still be effective. This technique has been known to help people with asthma and other respiratory problems.
4. Better Skeletal Muscular and Cardiovascular health
Laughter is an effective muscle relaxer (the term “fall down laughing” is proof), a good laugh can help with stiff and sore muscles. Laughter also increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and when you stop laughing they return to normal. This reaction is similar to aerobic exercise, which helps improve your cardiovascular system.
5. Strengthen the Abdominal Muscles
When you’re laughing, your abdominal muscles expand and contract, similarly to when you’re doing sit-ups. Add to that that your other muscles get to relax while you’re laughing and you’re both working out and resting at the same time! Additionally, think of how much fun it will be to laugh while you exercise?
6. Immune System Booster
According to HelpGuide.org, "Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease". Basically, the more you laugh – the less sick you’ll get!
7. Increase Caloric Burn
When you laugh for approx. 10 minutes, your heart rate increases and you effectively burn around 40 calories. This is not a weight-loss method, however – you can’t expect to laugh off that cheeseburger and large fries.
8. It Helps You Lower Mental Defenses
Do you surround yourself by walls and can’t figure out how to break them down? Laugh! Genuine laughter is pure joy. It spreads positive feelings in your mind and body – it improves your outlook on life, letting you break down your mental defenses. Just don’t use it as a mask to hide your true feelings.
9. Improve the Creative Process
As humor helps break down your walls, it lubricates your mental gears. The founder of the Society for Humor Studies, Mr. John Morreal, says that: "Creativity and humor are identical," he says. "They both involve bringing together two items which do not have an obvious connection, and creating a relationship."
10. Affects Your Brain Similarly to Meditation
When a person laughs with true joy, their brain-waves’ pattern are identical to a person in a true meditative state. The effects are both calming, as well as helping relieve pain. Laughter Yoga leader, Noreen Braman, says: "I have had fibromyalgia for many years, and since 2010 I have been finding pain relief through laughter, especially when I am leading a group in contagious laughter exercises."